RV Road Trip: How We Survived Our First Epic 21 Day Adventure

Meet NIRVC’s new blog contributor – Sherri Caldwell!

Hello, NIRVC Family! My name is Sherri Caldwell, a full-time RVer from Oceanside, CA… and Atlanta, GA… and Seattle, WA… 

And, most recently, from Orlando, FL, currently heading toward the AIM Club Rally: California Dreamin’ in San Diego, CA.

I am super excited to be guest-blogging RV Lifestyle features for the NIRVC blog and AIM Club. I look forward to sharing RV adventures and discoveries with you, and meeting YOU out there, on the road!

My husband, Russ, and I are living, working, and traveling the U.S. full-time in our 2016 Entegra Aspire 40P Class A “Diesel Pusher” Motorhome: Charlie-The-Unicorn RV. With Starfish, our 2021 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk, in tow.

I feel compelled to point out right here, right now: Sadly, we did not buy our Entegra from NIRVC, although we definitely will when we’re ready to upgrade. (Shh! Don’t tell Charlie! ❤️ ) Quite simply, we didn’t know about NIRVC when we found Charlie-The-Unicorn in August 2020.

We came into the NIRVC family more than a year later, through the Service Department at NIRVC Atlanta, which is a whole ‘nother story. For another time.

Suffice it to say, after our extraordinary experience with NIRVC, compared to our original dealership, we are Raving Super Fans for National Indoor RV Centers and NIRVC Atlanta.

I just want to be clear: The dealership mentioned, but not named, in the article below was not National Indoor RV Centers.


RV Road Trip: How We Survived Our First Epic 21 Day Adventure

Whether you are a seasoned RVer, a brand-new owner, or “just looking, thank you” – you know the RV industry, RV travel, RV life has changed dramatically over the last two years.

With the unprecedented surge in RV sales, interest, enthusiasm, and rampant desire to get out there, it’s a whole different scene at the dealership, on the road, in the parks, campgrounds and resorts.

There are a lot more RV newbies out there— have you noticed?

While we still have the fresh perspective of first time RV buyers, I want to share the adventure (and terror) of picking up a new or new-to-you motorhome and hitting the road on your shakedown cruise – nostalgia for some, inside peek or preview for others.

Over 21 days, we learned at least one critical lesson every single day of our adventure. Since I don’t want to overwhelm or scare anyone, I’ll summarize and preface with just three:

Top 3 Surprising Lessons Learned On Our First RV Road Trip:

  1. Your RV is not trying to kill you (or maybe it is)
  2. WalMart can be an RVers best destination???
  3. Best way to learn? Get in and GO! (With plenty of Google and YouTube research first and all along the way ;-))

Join us on our very first RV adventure, driving our new-to-us 40-foot Class A motorhome halfway across the country…

We survived — and so can you!

By August 2020, our pandemic / Working From Home / travel shutdown response to the pandemic, living downtown Seattle in a high-rise: 

We bought a big RV!!! (Basically, a 400-square-foot condo on wheels.)

A beautiful 2016 Entegra Aspire 40P Class A Motorhome.

We bought the Entegra, during the height of the pandemic, online, sight unseen (except for several video walk-thrus and independent inspection), through RV Trader, from a large, reputable dealership in Orlando, FL. 

I mentioned we lived in Seattle, Washington. 

With Covid surging nationwide at the time, the dealer offered to transport and deliver the RV to their furthest-west dealership, in Des Moines, IA.

Six weeks later, when the deal was finally done, we rented a car, packed it with all the starter RV equipment & supplies, and drove to Des Moines from Seattle. 

We took delivery, and managed to get ourselves, and the RV, back to Washington State. 

It was our very first RV road trip, our first time driving an RV, other than a brief test-drive of a 2015 Aspire at an outdoor RV Show in Tacoma, WA (which is how we discovered and fell in love with the Entegra Aspire – our unicorn RV).

This article is all about our first-ever epic RV Road Trip as complete newbies — here we go!

Day 1 – RV Buyers Remorse?

9/28/2020 – Des Moines, IA: Prairie Flower COE Campground

Text to Full-Time RV Friend – 9:30 p.m.:

OMG. We’re going to get better at this, right?! We’re in the RV, at a nice COE (Corps of Engineers) campground somewhere outside of Des Moines. It’s been a long day, with our first solo drive-away from the dealer in Des Moines, IA. They’ve been  great. We screwed up and didn’t realize this campground is electric only. No water at campsite?!

We are learning things. I’ve been good all day, but now I’m having a panic attack – WHAT DID WE DO??? And how are we going to get all the way back home to Seattle? 

Full-Time RV Friend:

Hahahaha. That’s what holding tanks & dump stations are for! You’ll be fine! Do you love it? 

10:06 p.m.:  I love it.

____

After a rough first day, we got settled very late at the COE campground. Russ learned how to back the RV into place quickly. Of course, both times he parked, he had people come up behind him on the one-way road. He did great. Fortunately, most people in an RV campground are very understanding and supportive. 

We accidentally set the RV alarm off twice, at 8:30 p.m. and 1:30 a.m.

Leaving the dealership

We stayed at the RV dealership until about 3:00 p.m. Video walk-thru with our Florida salesman and tech. Follow-up with local tech & service department.

The people at Des Moines were great, to a point. We had a lot of questions they really worked to resolve. But didn’t. 

The biggest one was a bedroom slide-out that wouldn’t fully extend out and fall into place. It was off by only about an inch or so. They reassured us it was nothing to prevent safe travel or create any problems.

Their advice was to drive it and the slide would “probably” fall into place. It didn’t. But it got us off the lot.

RV newbie campground mistakes:

Our biggest mistake (first day): We reserved a space in a lovely Corps of Engineers campground — $22 per night – with 50amp electric service, but no water at the site! Or sewer. This could get messy.

Which made it really freaking hard (turns out: impossible) to flush, sanitize, and fill the 100-gallon fresh water tank.

We spent nearly the entire night trying to sanitize and flush the fresh water tank, which is A Process, especially with no water at the campsite. In the rain.

(Windshield wipers broke on Russ’s first drive out of the dealership to the campground. In the pouring rain. On the interstate, in fairly heavy rush-hour traffic. On his own. I was leading in the rental car, but hadn’t yet figured out how to be a good pace car. But I digress.)

At the campground, we put out the slides. Did it fix the bedroom slide? No, it did not. 

  • Leveled with auto leveler (not level).
  • Plugged into power, which we figured out by reading the owner’s manual. 
  • Settled in for an uneventful night. (Except for the accidental alarm at 1:30 a.m.)

Whew — What a day!

Day 2 – Learning to Drive

Des Moines, IA: Griff’s RV Resort

What a weird thing, to wake up at 5:30 a.m., in Iowa, in our very own RV.

Yesterday was crazy: exciting, frustrating, overwhelming, scary… by 11:00 p.m., I was ready to give in to a full-blown panic attack:

WHAT HAVE WE DONE??? (And were we crazy to do it?)

The next morning, we left the campground early for a last run to WalMart for supplies. (Who knew, by the end of our three-week adventure, WalMart would be our new best shopping destination. Trust me, there are reasons!)

After the WalMart run, it was time to return the rental car in Des Moines.

RV Killer RV
I think our RV is trying to kill us.

Even in retrospect, Day 2 was the scariest day of all. I was driving the rental car, trying to get it turned in before the deadline. I waited for Russ at the entrance of the campground, but I figured he was okay, and I went ahead. Big Mistake.

By the time I finally got to the rental agency across town (not in the best part of Des Moines, IA), I had no idea where he was in the 40-foot RV.

I walked across the street to a QuikTrip to scope out a place where he could pull over to pick me up. Plenty of room. I called his cell phone, one of the most frightening conversations of my life.

I could barely understand him over the noisy connection, but he was as near to a panic as I’ve ever heard my typically calm, laid-back hubs: 

“Something isn’t right”

He pulled up to the gas station and I got on board. It was quickly apparent that there was something seriously wrong with the RV. 

As if suddenly, there were no shock absorbers or stabilizers anywhere on the 40’ chassis.

The entire RV was literally leaping and rocking dangerously, exaggerated in slow motion: forward and back, side to side. Bunny hopping, porpoising. It was like trying to ride a bucking bronco. A really angry bronco, trying to kill you. It was terrifying.

Somehow we made it to the closest campground we could find with all of this going on. Fortunately, we were still in Des Moines, still close to the dealership. We called and told them we would be back first thing in the morning.

Safely parked for the night.

Once we were able to calm down, we were able to assess the damage and research what could have caused the chaos.

With full hook-ups at the RV park, we were finally able to finish the fresh water tank prep.

Knock on wood, we had not had a sewer disaster. Yet. (I was still kind of afraid to use the RV toilet — not sure what I could do in the RV, what I could safely use, when: water, bathroom, appliances, lights, etc.) 

We broke out the new Blackstone Griddle we’d brought all the way across country in the rental car. Grilled steaks. Yum.

We made the steak into awesome fajitas, made possible with the discovery of fresh squeeze Guacamole at the WalMart. (Who knew?!) 

After such a harrowing day, with a good dinner and adult beverages, we finally started to figure things out.

  • We went through the rig and documented all the things that were not quite right with our gently-used five-year-old motorhome.
  • We made a punch list for the dealer, under their 30-day warranty.
  • We thought maybe we’d even figured out the bucking bronco situation.

–> I’ve learned, after a lifetime with mechanical things, and humans, too: sometimes you just need to turn things off and give it a rest, to re-set.

Day 3 – Our Epic RV Road Trip Begins

Onawa, IA: On-Ur-Wa RV Park

Text to Mother-In-Law / RV Mentor – 8:12 a.m.:  

We made it! Two nights in, still in Iowa, FSO (figuring stuff out). It’s an adventure, for sure. So far, so… well, it’s a shakedown/learning cruise. We’ll try to check in soon. Love, S&R 

IOWA IS WINDY!!! 

____

FSO – Figuring Stuff Out

We took our first RV showers, before heading out early to wait for the dealership to open. 

It was an uneventful morning drive to the dealership. Our bucking bronco was under control. We hung out at the dealership for a couple of hours. Ultimately, they were not able to get us in for service. (By late September 2020, the surge had already begun.)

We were able to confirm the problem from the day before, which Russ had already researched and figured out online, having to do with air pressure and getting to ride height. Everything was okay again.

Ride Height is the setting for the air suspension on your chassis. Ride Height is very, very important.

After consulting with everyone in Des Moines, and our salesman in Florida, we were advised to head home to Seattle. Everything was safe and drive-able, in good working order.

Except for the windshield wiper. They ordered the parts for us, shipped to Seattle.

Under the 30-day warranty, they agreed to fix all of the relatively minor issues we had listed, working with a partner dealership or RV service in Washington State.

I was more than ready!

“Let’s just GO!”

We made it 176 miles to Onawa, Iowa. A small campground just off the interstate, behind a gas station/convenience store and a Dairy Queen.

We carried a bag of garbage all 176 miles because we forgot to dump it on the way out of the campground in Des Moines. (Don’t do that.)

Day 4 – RV Road Trip: Return To Start

Des Moines, IA: At the Dealership 

Text to non-RV Friend – 3:33 p.m.: 

Well… we WERE on the road. And everything was great today. It still is (finally), but dealer called and wants us back for warranty work, instead of sending us back to Seattle. Long story. All good. So we’re driving back four hours now to get it done. 

Shakedown cruise– it’s been an adventure! Stressful at times, but we love the rig and we’re going to ENJOY THE ADVENTURE!

____

Back where we started, at the dealership in Des Moines. Staying overnight inside their lot. Locked in. Nobody else around but the security guard, and us.

All good. 

Day 5 – RV Dealership Problems

Onawa, IA: On-Ur-Wa Campground (again)

Facebook post:

RV Adventure Update (Day 5): After another day in Des Moines, walking the cornfields to search out Margaritas (fab Mexican food in Iowa, who knew?!), and then discovering the horse track/casino for a couple hours to pass time… dealership didn’t fix a single issue: “Need parts.” 

All fairly minor issues (except for one). We drove away.

Gotta get out of Iowa. They’re sending parts to Seattle. We’ll figure it out. 

We shouldn’t even need that other windshield wiper, right?!

Day 6 – RV Campgrounds in South Dakota

Mitchell, SD: Dakota Campground

To RV Friend – 7:22 a.m.: 

5 days in — steep learning curve. Driving home without windshield wipers. We’re  going to stay in South Dakota Mon – Fri next week so Russ can WFH (Zoom & “green screen” (a bedsheet)). LOL. He did manage to set up great mobile internets. This is going to be interesting.

10:35 p.m.: 

We are all good. The dealer is fine. We’ll work it all out. We are having fun and very excited. Problems could be so much worse.  

Today, we banged up our $500 rear rock guard (hangs down below rear  bumper). Our fault, learning curve. That’s the biggest expense/problem so far. Meh. We’re still rolling! 

To Rapid City, SD tomorrow. For the week! Then to Spokane, WA for the next week! Home 10/18.

Day 7 – RV Resorts in South Dakota

Spearfish, SD: Elkhorn Ridge RV Resort

Text to Mother-In-Law / RV Mentor – 2:45pm:

The Adventure is exhausting & stressful at times. Watched Russ crawl under the back end and rig up our Entegra rock guard. He’s pretty amazing! 

At least 3 new “learning experiences” every day so far.  

It’s a lot like driving away from the hospital with a brand new baby. We don’t know what the heck we’re doing. A lot could go wrong. 

Mother-In-Law’s advice: 

Trust us, it will mellow out, just not for a while. But that’s where all the fun is. You weren’t hoping for a boring life were you? 

Day 8 – RV Internets & WFH – Working From Home

Spearfish, SD: Elkhorn Ridge

Monday – 7:45 a.m.:  

I woke up feeling so much better today. I spent much of yesterday with a headache, backache, and WORRYING ABOUT EVERYTHING. Second-guessing all of this. 

Today is better. 

Russ is back to work. On Zoom. 

First thing we did last night was test the internets. We seem to be doing okay (running Google Internet speed tests for download & upload speeds). A little tenuous with the upload speeds, maybe. Unfortunately, that is the most important thing for Zoom calls. 

It’s going to be fine.

We are at a lovely campground in Spearfish, SD, about half-hour past Rapid City.

NON RV-Friendly Adventures On The Way

We checked out several campgrounds between Rapid City and Spearfish, got lost on a dangerous NOT RV FRIENDLY road searching out a KOA…

Lost and dangerously off the RV friendly route…

We discovered Deadwood, South Dakota in the mountains. Very cool old gold rush town, revitalized and very active with trendy (touristy) restored buildings, shops, bars, and restaurants. The Old West, updated.  

We couldn’t stop, lost in the 40-foot beast. There was no place we could have safely pulled off to park. We can hardly wait to come back with a “toad” (tow vehicle hooked up to the back of the RV) so we can get out and explore! 

Day 9 – RV Support: Programs & Memberships

Spearfish, SD: Elkhorn Ridge

To Full-Time RV Friend – 8:45 a.m.: 

Thanks for all the info & support. Our first week was crazy & scary with what we didn’t know. The worst was riding around our 2nd day in a 40-foot bucking bronco because we hadn’t filled the air pressure to ride height. Bashed up our rear Entegra rock guard plate. Russ had to jerry-rig it up with new bolts & links at a Menard’s parking lot in Mitchell, SD. 

____

So many little things to learn with water and tanks and toilets and electrical. 

And… the washing machine doesn’t work! No power. The dryer works. We suspect there’s a blown fuse inside the washer, which is a hassle to repair or replace, apparently.

So I’m at the campground laundry today.

Thoughts on RV Programs & Memberships

  • The several Good Sam campgrounds we have stayed at have been terrific. The KOA here was more expensive than the resort we ended up at for the week. Variable by location, I know. 
  • We’ve been using RV Life for “RV-friendly” GPS & campground info. Super helpful, when we follow the GPS. We haven’t figured out their Trip Wizard trip planning & routing thing online, which is part of the membership. We will. (Next road trip!) 
  • The Entegra Owner’s Group on Facebook has been a godsend!!!

It’s all good. We have so many little things to resolve and figure out.

RVs in general seem a lot more delicate than I expected — so many things! 

Quote from my Full-Time RV Friend:

RV’s are delicate but they also survive dozens of earthquakes all day while you drive. I’m honestly surprised more doesn’t happen.  

Day 10 – Uneventful Work Day in the RV!

Spearfish, SD: Elkhorn Ridge

Incredible sunset walks around the extensive resort property. There is a trail out into the fields, bison on the horizon. The trail goes around a mile or more to the gas station / convenience store at the exit from the Interstate. Deli & wine cellar — great selection of goodies. Life is good.

Day 11 – We’re Doing This!

Spearfish, SD: Elkhorn Ridge

Early October in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It is gorgeous & warm. So very peaceful.

Still FSO (Figuring Stuff Out), but we haven’t had any “special learning experiences” since Tuesday!

We’ve enjoyed staying in place for a few days. Russ’s Zoom Seattle background & internets are working out great.

I’ve been organizing, decorating, and managing life/work stuff, trying to finish two October books for Book Group(s) next week (via Zoom!).

All good… until we get home and can fix the windshield wipers… and the washer/fuse issues… and the fresh water tank/city water valve on the water thing, and… oh, the rock guard thing that hangs down below the rear bumper… yeah. Small things!

Day 12 – RV-Friendly WalMart

Buffalo, WY: Indian Campground

We checked out of Elkhorn Ridge early on Friday. Drove to a WalMart parking lot off the Interstate and set up the internets, so Russ could finish his Zoom calls for the day, without the interruption of 11:00 a.m. check-out at the campground.

That’s the great thing about WalMart (and no, I can’t believe I’m saying this): They are definitely RV-friendly, catering to traveling shoppers:

  • WalMart locations all over the country, easy access from the Interstates.
  • Enormous, well-lit and marked parking lots make it easy to navigate and park large vehicles.
  • Many WalMarts allow overnight parking for RVs, if you check with local management.
  • WalMart offers a full grocery store and everything else, including many specialty RV parts & supplies.
  • Because you’re going to be in the store spending money at some point, they don’t mind if you park for a couple of hours. Or several.

Which is what we did.

It worked out great: I shopped and stocked up on supplies for the next week, while Russ finished his calls for the day (good internet access, too!).

With our late afternoon start, we ended up at an overnight campground (not a WalMart — we’re not that brave yet!), right off the Interstate in Buffalo, WY.

Turns out, they were closing for the season the next day, so everything was pretty much shut down, which was fine for the quick overnight.

Day 13 – Our RV Road Trip Continues… & Harvest Hosts!

Bozeman, MT: Sentinel Alpaca Ranch

So… Harvest Hosts!

  • RV Camping At 2594+ Wineries, Breweries, Farms and More!
  • A membership program that invites self-contained RVers to enjoy unique overnight stays.
  • FREE* OVERNIGHT CAMPING at some of the coolest, most unique destinations you can imagine across country!

*FREE overnight camping, but you agree, as a member, to support these small businesses in exchange, by touring the property, enjoying a meal or entertainment, or buying something (a bottle of wine/beer or other products available: farm fresh eggs & produce, alpaca yarn products!) — depending on what they offer, of course.

Sentinel Ranch was our first Harvest Hosts experience. We were a little nervous:

  • The locations can be a little off the beaten path, to get to the farms, wineries, and other amazing places.
  • “Self-contained” = Boondocking. 
  • You take your garbage with you when you go.
  • Without hook-ups, the RV is basically a very complex tent.

Boondocking or “dry camping” means surviving overnight in your RV without any hook-ups (electric, water, sewer). You rely on your batteries, maybe a generator (if you have one and if it’s allowed), your own tank of fresh water, and gray & black water tanks.   

Gray water = everything that goes down the sink or shower.

Black water = everything that goes down the toilet. 

____

5:30 a.m. trip to the bathroom:

All was quiet. One bathroom accent light. And all the chargers, silently charging iPhones, watches, iPads & my Kindle, sipping away on battery power, with a little auto-boost from the generator every once in a while, when the house batteries got low. 

Day 14 – Casino Campground (NOT a Harvest Host)

Spokane, WA: Northern Quest Casino

After spending the morning with the Alpacas at Sentinel Ranch, we drove out with a huge load of Alpaca products from their gift shop (over $100 in Alpaca yarn socks, hats, dryer balls(!), and gifty things for Christmas presents).

Destination: Spokane, WA to see our daughter!

We reserved a campsite at the Northern Quest Casino — a brand-new campground area next to the enormous casino property.

Casinos, like WalMart, often have free overnight parking available, for their clientele who will be spending money in the casino or lounges. It’s generally “rough” parking (boondocking, as described above) and the casinos often require the purchase of resort credits, or enrollment in the casino club card program, in exchange for free parking.

Not being gamblers like that, we opted to stay & pay in the campground — a manicured and landscaped property, with big, paved spaces and full hook-ups. Very clean, very nice, very expensive (relatively). No gambling required.

Because the campground was so new, there were no trees or other windbreaks, on a very windy, open plain. Adding to the general turbulence, an ambulance, lights and sirens blaring, arrived in the middle of the night at the site across from us.

Russ slept through it. I did not.

Day 15 – RV Laundry Day

Spokane, WA: Northern Quest Casino

Northern Quest Casino Campground does have a brand-new laundry room: Very fancy. Very expensive.

By lunchtime, there were weather warnings of extreme winds in the area overnight and through the next day.

It was time to move somewhere else.

Day 16 – Changing Locations

Spokane, WA: Deer Park RV Resort

Thanks to Good Sam and suggestions on our Entegra Owner’s Facebook Group, we discovered Deer Park RV Resort, just north of Spokane — on a golf course!

Day 17 – LP = Liquid Propane

Spokane, WA: Deer Park RV Resort

I think our RV is trying to kill us – 2.0

It may be because I’ve been reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson for Midtown ATL Book Group (spooky!), but I think the RV may have tried to kill us last night (again!):

3:00 A.M. LP GAS ALARM!!! — for no apparent reason. (LP gas was OFF & the alarm cleared immediately when re-set.)

Russ says it was trying to protect us. I slept (eventually) with all the windows open.

Trying to get used to all of this.

Day 18 – RV Life

Spokane, WA: Deer Park RV Resort

I’m still asking my hubs dumb questions:

  • Is it okay to use the bathroom?
  • Can I flush the toilet?
  • Can I use the sink?
  • Can I open the refrigerator?
  • I don’t want to mess anything up.

Case in point: closing the bathroom door at a rest stop (trapping a fly).

I closed the mid-ship bathroom door during travel to trap a fly. The door was stuck closed for the rest of the day. (Thankfully, I wasn’t inside the bathroom, with the fly.) We had no access to the set-up panel when we parked for the night. Frantic Facebook (Entegra Owner’s Group) & Google research. We did eventually get it open.  

So much to learn. 

So much can go wrong. 

The stress of being homeless — having to find a place to park every night, preferably an hour before dark, with time to set everything up. 

Barely functional right now (me, not the RV). 

Day 19 – Harvest Hosts #2

Quincy, WA: Trinity Gardens Lavender Farm

RV Adventure Day #19 – I can’t believe we’re suddenly near the end of our epic RV Road Trip. On our way home. Two more nights.

We left Spokane & Daughter this morning. Such a great visit! She tested our guest bed — need a mattress topper on the fold-out.

“Ran a few errands” in the 40-foot RV (including WalMart!).

Today’s Special Learning Experience: “RV Friendly” GPS sending us over the RR tracks on a Dead End road.

Russ is an amazing RV driver. 

(We almost died. Again. 3rd time.)

Parked tonight at Trinity Gardens Lavender Farm in Quincy, WA on the Columbia River Gorge. Incredibly beautiful, very windy!

Day 20 – The Last Night of Our Epic RV Road Trip

Anacortes, WA: Fidalgo Bay RV Resort

We have discovered our RV Happy Place in Washington State.

We didn’t think this type of beach campground even existed in the Seattle area, after preliminary research and driving around over the last couple of months.

We found Fidalgo Bay RV Resort by mistake.

We stopped at an RV service facility in Everett (north of Seattle), to see if they could help with any of the issues and concerns on our new-to-us RV punch list. Not sure how that will all shake out, but the people there were super helpful, so we asked a lot of questions, including:

“What’s your favorite RV campground in the area?”

They highly recommended a casino campground near Anacortes, which is about 90 minutes north of Seattle.

The casino campground was FULL!

So we checked out our handy-dandy RV Life app, and it showed this campground, just four miles up the road.

We called: one space available. Yay! On the water, lovely Fidalgo Bay.

It was perfect for the last night of our epic RV Road Trip.

Day 21 – Home Again, Home Again

10/18/2020 – Snohomish, WA: Snohomish Storage

21 days. 2000 miles. 3 near-death experiences.

And we managed to back-in to our very skinny covered storage space in Snohomish, WA, 40 minutes from home.

Are we intermediate level RVers yet? (Still far from “expert,” but we’re working on it!)

Text to Full-Time RV Friend – 7:48AM: 

#1 – I don’t know if I can live like that full-time??? It feels like I would have to give up so much… stuff. It’s just stuff. Do you have a  storage unit for your stuff?

#2 – I am going to have to learn how to drive a 40′ RV. I thought: no problem! Little old ladies drive school buses. And RVs. My dad was a truck driver! But I got spooked out there. I didn’t drive it. Not at all. Russ is an excellent RV driver, and he likes it. I know I have to learn. 

I’m trying to catch up on this new life, after 23 days away, with 6 months to prepare for another major-major life change… maybe going full-time???

Yes, I’m having fun. I love it.


Sherri Caldwell is the founder of BooksAndTravelUSA.com – Full-time RV Travel Blog & Book Club/U.S. Literacy Project. With her husband, Russ, she is currently living, working, and traveling full-time in their 2016 Entegra Aspire 40P: Charlie-The-Unicorn.

4 RV Destinations You Don’t Want to Miss!

Florida
Best Months: Any

You don’t earn a name like “Sunshine State” accidentally. The climate is just one of the many reasons to visit Florida. These also include accessible beaches, easy-to-drive roads, and plenty of interesting tourist destinations. Did we mention that there’s plenty of sun?

Florida is known for being a super RV-friendly state, and that translates to awesome RV accommodations and friendly rates for RV camping. Some of the most popular destinations include the Florida Caverns State Park—which allows guests to hike near breathtaking rock formations—and the freshwater springs at Juniper Springs National Recreation Area.

If you venture out to Orlando, there’s always the option to check out Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort, which combines RV camping with all the magic of a Disney Park visit!

South Dakota
Best Months: April-September

While most people don’t associate this state with being a trendy tourist destination, it offers a unique look at America that’s unlike any other place in the country. Combined with accessible roads, beautiful scenery, and plenty of interesting tourist stops, it can make for an easily memorable RVing experience.

There’s a certain living history to South Dakota that’s easy to pick up across long peaceful drives in your motorhome on its gentle roads. You can feel shades of America’s storied past in locations like the Badlands National Park, which offers breathtaking rock formations that have a certain rugged, fantasy magic to them.

One required destination on any South Dakota trip is the Wall Drug Store, a mom-and-pop store that’s blossomed into a full-on tourist destination. Featuring a mall, general store, and plenty of quirky merchandise, it feels like a glorious time capsule to a different era—one that is best experienced while traveling in your luxury motorhome.

Arizona
Best Months: April-June, September-November

Unless you really, really like the heat, you’ll probably want to visit Arizona during one of its cooler months. During the summer, there doesn’t feel like much to do besides sit in pools and wish that you were somewhere cooler.

Once you get past the heat, however, you’ll find that Arizona offers some of the most breathtaking desert scenery in the country. There’s still plenty of wild west spirit left along the state’s open roads, and it’s impossible not to feel it during long, scenic drives in your motorhome.

While Arizona is home to one of the most popular RV destinations in the country—the Grand Canyon—it’s also home to some lesser-known ones. The Petrified Forest National Park allows guests to wander across stone log fragments while basking in the beautiful scenery of the Painted Desert. Meanwhile Meteor Crater allows RVers to see the best-preserved meteorite impact site on earth—just miles from the historic Route 66!

Colorado
Best Months: May-October

While Colorado winters can be incredibly beautiful, they can also be a bit chilly well into May. As long as you’re willing to put up with catching a surprise blizzard for half of the year, Colorado offers breathtaking scenery and plenty of things to do while traveling in your motorhome. As many of the state’s RV destinations are within a day or so of Denver, it’s easy to fit plenty of interesting adventures into a relatively short RVing trip.

Rocky Mountain National Park is considered a national destination by mountaineers and nature photographers, and it’s not hard to see why: it’s incredibly beautiful! The western half of the state is dotted with plenty of interesting mountain towns, offering plenty of chances to absorb the state’s interesting history while venturing through its western half.

Colorado is also an incredible place for watching fall colors, as long as you’re ready to drive away when the surprise snow rolls in! There are plenty of byways around Fort Collins and Leadville that are blanketed with bright fall foliage and unparalleled views.


Once you have a destination, you’ll want to download and read our “NIRVC Buyer’s Guide” (see file below) to make sure that you’re driving the right motorhome for your adventure. Every driver is different and having an RV (recreational vehicle) that fits your unique needs goes a long way towards making your trips more memorable and enjoyable.

National Indoor RV Centers (NIRVC) employs expert technicians and RV Lifestyle Specialists at each of our locations in order to help each customer, whether you’re an RV enthusiast or a brand new RVer, find the luxury motorhome that is just right for you and your loved ones.